Retired neurosurgeon and one-time GOP front-runner Ben Carson suspended his presidential campaign on Friday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), according to reports. Carson made the announcement two days after admitting that he doesn't see "a political path forward" for his campaign and one day after skipping the last Republican debate. The CPAC audience greeted his announcement with disappointed boos, then a standing ovation.
In classic Carson fashion, he took a while to make the announcement, then did so somewhat lethargically in an almost matter-of-fact way.
"I'm hopeful that maybe some people, now that I am leaving the campaign trail..." Carson said, trailing off. There were scattered boos from the crowd, but soon, the crowd rose to their feet and gave Carson a lengthy applause. "But even though I might be leaving the campaign tr — you know, there's a lot of people who love me, they just won't vote for me.""I will still continue to be heavily involved, you know, in trying to save our nation," Carson concluded.
Carson, a world-renowned neurosurgeon, first attracted the attention of conservative politicos in 2013, when he delivered a speech critical of the Affordable Care Act in front of President Obama during the annual National Prayer Breakfast. After declaring his candidacy, Carson attracted attention for his drowsy, low-energy speaking style and novel theories about the Egyptian pyramids. He briefly rose to the top of the polls before plummeting weeks later.
But Carson, forward-thinker that he is, already has a new job lined up. He's going to be leading a Christian organization called My Faith Votes. As the name implies, the group's goal is to get Christian voters to the polls on election day.
"Nothing is more important to me than my personal faith, and it is my faith that motivated me to be involved in the political process to begin with," Carson said in a statement Friday. "I believe Christians in this country can easily determine the next president of the United States and all other national and local leaders, should they simply show up at the polls."
Frankly, this job is probably better suited to Carson's strengths than the U.S. presidency is. On the campaign trail, he frequently made incorrect claims about geopolitics, American history, homosexuality, Obamacare, the Holocaust, and more. However, he's a very well-respected voice in many Christian circles, and he has been for quite some time.
And let's give credit where it's due: Carson ran what was probably the most civil campaign in the GOP primary. He largely refused to sling mud at any of his Republican opponents, instead appealing to voters' sense of etiquette and respect. This didn't win him many Republican votes, but it does say something about his character. If nothing else, Carson's campaign helped highlight just how nasty the Republican campaign has become — and judging by Thursday's embarrassment of a debate, he got out just in time.